Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Buh-bye WoW, hello Diablo 3!

If you've seen the gaming news today, you might have read something like this article which mentions Blizzard's earnings call. Two things were of major interest to me.

First, there's this little matter regarding World of Warcraft's subscriptions which dropped by 600K after Cataclysm. While this isn't very surprising to me, it still feels strange that after such a major and successful expansion a lot of people still reached the burnout point so quickly.

I will come clean: I am one of those 600K. I've been slowly slipping away from WoW to the point where I'm not playing it anymore, I don't care about it anymore and I find unlikely that I will ever return. These feelings are really weird because Cataclysm was everything I dreamed of in WoW: a revamped Azeroth and flying throughout the old continents! Unfortunately, all these enhancements don't change the fact that every WoW expansion is the same 'ol, same 'ol as the previous one.

It might be that we're starting to see the first signs of WoW's inevitable decline. It won't happen abruptly. But I can see how Blizzard will find it harder and harder to keep old players in and at the same time attract new ones. Don't worry though, I'm sure this decline will be so gradual that we won't even realize it. In fact, I won't be surprised if WoW will still be online 10 years from now. It's just that good. But sometimes the same formula repeated just won't cut it.

Myself, I still follow WoW news loosely and watch patch information, I still post articles on this blog (on more general topics rather than particulars) and I also run which is my pet WoW project (check it out if you haven't). So I'm still connected to the Warcraft universe and I will likely remain connected for a long time even if I'm not actively playing.

The second thing from Blizzard's conference that I found significant is the fact that they are "working hard to release Diablo 3 in 2011". I know that this isn't a guarantee that we'll be able to play Diablo 3 in its final version this year but after 10 years of waiting I can finally be confident that in a worst case scenario I'll be able to play it within a year. If I'm lucky, I might even get a beta invite sooner, and from what Blizzard is saying, a public beta is slated to be opened some time between July and September.

Diablo 3 might as well be one of the reasons that drew me away from WoW. I mean, the closer we get to a public beta (and subsequently to a launch), the less desire I feel towards WoW. And it's only fitting, because part of the attraction of World of Warcraft, back when I started playing, was that it offered a pseudo-substitute to the Diablo universe.

WoW obviously has several things in common with Diablo, both games being about improving your character by gaining levels, learning new skills and finding new and more powerful gear. The similarities end here because WoW is a much more involved game, starting with the MMO aspect, not to mention that very often powerful gear is not so random since it can be obtained with emblems and so on.

I am willing to be patient in regard to Diablo 3. I've been waiting for it for so long that another year (or less) feels like nothing at this point, especially with the beta in sight. I'm just a bit wary of the many ways in which Blizzard could still screw the pooch on this one. I'm scared about the DRM they might implement and I'm scared about the game being based around online play. And then I'm scared about a dozen other small things. I won't lie to you: it's unlikely that I will jump to buy Diablo 3 from the first day. I'll keep my impatience in check for a few days or a couple of weeks until I can see some good reviews. If they mess this one up, I will regretfully have to pass on it. Still, despite my fears, I'm generally optimistic. It's Blizzard we're talking about, after all.

If Diablo 3 is released this year, or even very early in 2012, this might give extra validity to this Blizzard release schedule that was "leaked" some time ago. And if that chart turns out to be true, there's a lot to look forward to from Blizzard, in just a few years: 2 more Diablo expansions, 2 more World of Warcraft expansions, some more StarCraft stuff (in which I'm not interested), as well as their secret new MMO.


sklyanka said...

I love you Thank you very much for it!

Nate H. said...

I am very excited for Diablo 3!

Echo said...

You and others -like me- who abandoned the game are players who simply "got bored" after playing for years, almost every day.

think about it: how many games could hook you for so much time, on a daily basis? I guess WoW only.

Time passes, people grow... and people move on, it's a natural process in my opinion. 5% is nothing, as soon as they drop a new content-patch... frozen accounts will surely get some love again.

But what about new players? For them... WoW is still a unique experience like no other game could ever offer.

We are too old for that. When you (player) start theorycrafting about gear and specs, running a blog and following wow-related forums and/or websites every single day... It's time to chill and move away :)

Still I like following you and mmo-champion, don't ask me why. But I completely abandoned official forums, wowhead and other blogs.

Darth Solo said...

@sklyanka thanks a lot!

@Nate H. me too, can't wait for it! On second thoughts I'd rather wait longer if it meant they can make it perfect.

@Echo I think I'm past the burnout stage. I just don't care about playing WoW at all, nothing that comes out with new patches attracts me anymore. I'm pretty sure that I won't be buying the next expansion, regardless what they'll add to it. That's especially true if I will be playing Diablo 3 at the time.

You know, I actually played Diablo 2 for over 5 years and I never got tired of it. Well, I didn't play it every single day, obviously, but I came back to it time and time again. I would still play it today if it weren't for the primitive 800x600 graphics. Unfortunately my eyes hurt and I get headaches from those graphics but, as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with the gameplay.

At heart I remain a gamer, though I don't play as much as I used to. But now I have a lot more stuff on my plate. As you said, we are older now. Hopefully I will have more time for games when I retire. I just hope there will be good games to play.

Thanks for your readership Echo, I really appreciate it!

Echo said...

Diablo for over 5 years is a hell of a lot, damn after some time I couldn't stand the graphics even if I loved the gameplay :-)

I'm feeling confident for Diablo III. And i surely hope the online component will be strong and well developed, as I guess I woudl get bored pretty fast playing on my own.

I just want a simple yet "fun" gameplay. Plus achievements and a strong anti-cheat system (/hug

I am not a fan of online gaming, most of the times, but I love it when a game is not time-consuming (see WoW or any other MMO). You jump in, find some people to play with/agains... stop after 10, 15, whatever minutes. Without THAT feeling of being constantly chasing new gear, new stuff, new tiers, etc.

Alex said...

I just closed my account and I’ve been trying to figure out why .. at first I thought WoW may have jumped the shark but now I think its me and not the game. Like you said “same 'ol, same 'ol”. Before WoW I was pretty happy with video games .. now I find everything else pales in comparison. Damn WoW, I think I need to go into rehab.

Darth Solo said...

Dammit guys, I had replied to you a couple of days ago but my comment is now gone, thanks to Blogger being down. I can't remember what I wrote :(

@Alex, very good point. I tend to do that too. I view all games through a WoW lens. It's a good thing Diablo 3 is also made by Blizzard :D

Blackthought said...

You know what I dropped wow for about 2 months with no real intentions of coming back. I tried some other games and like someone else already said they just fall short. Imagine all the restaurants in the world were sandwich shops except one that was a steak house. Now imagine you’ve eaten at the steak house for 3 years straight, at some point you’re going to HATE steak. So you stop going to the steak house and try a couple of the sandwich shops. Sure at first two loves of bread some cheese and a piece of ham appear to be novel and NEW, but after a few weeks you find yourself staring down at a bland asz sandwich with the knowledge of the steak house and you ask yourself, “wtf am I doing wasting my time here?”

That was me. I tried a couple sandwich shops and honestly I always left less than full. So here I sit, 2 months later with a freshly activated wow account and I’m back to the races.
You’ll be back... they always come back.

Darth Solo said...

@Blackthought I agree with you completely. I quit WoW cold turkey a few years ago for over a year but in the end came back. I'm not saying it won't happen again but for now I don't have the slightest desire to return. It so happens that for the rest of this year I will be busy with other things in my life so even if I wanted to, I couldn't return to WoW. And then, Diablo 3 will be out, which means that I will probably lock myself in my home for the next 3 months, playing it until my fingers bleed. I exaggerate but if D3 is good enough it might just steal the limelight from WoW.

Anyway, your sandwich shop analogy is spot on. No other MMO compares to WoW and that's not a good thing.